PEKIN, Ill. (AP) — You might think that staying closer to home during a pandemic would result in more pet adoptions. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Holly Crotty, executive director of the Tazewell Animal Protection Society (TAPS) in Pekin said that, as of November 2019, the non-profit/no-kill animal shelter had sent 1,509 animals to permanent homes. As of last week, TAPS animal adoption totals were only 1,239 this year for the same time frame.

“We have slowed down on both intakes and adoptions,” Crotty added. “One of the reasons our intakes have decreased is because, especially earlier this year, a lot of the partner animal control (agencies) we worked with closed their services down and only responded to emergencies or aggressive animals.”

Peoria County Animal Protection Services (PCAPS) has also seen a decrease in pet adoptions. Last week, according to PCAPS shelter supervisor Meghan Cowser, the facility adopted out 15 pets – down from 23 adoptions during the corresponding week last year. She added that the decrease in pet adoptions may be because pandemic safety protocols have made the process less convenient.

“Before (the pandemic), you could just come in here at any time and look at the animals,” said Cowser. “If you wanted to adopt, you filled out an application, and we would go through with it. Now, it’s appointment-based only. You have to be approved before you can meet an animal.”

Like PCAPS, TAPS closed its facility at the beginning of the pandemic and remains closed to the public.

“We have to be concerned about the safety of our staff, because we aren’t an organization that can close down, quarantine our staff and do a deep cleaning,” Crotty said. “We have living, breathing animals in the building and there has to be someone in here every day to care for them.”

Both Crotty and Cowser said there was an initial surge of pet adoptions at the outset of the pandemic, because more area residents were working from home and had more time to spend interacting with and training them. Cowser added that PCAPS sent 20 dogs and 15 cats to foster homes in March.

“We thought ‘Hey, let’s get everybody out of here,’ because we didn’t know how long we’d be closed or how things would go,” she said. “We actually ended up fostering every dog we had and half of our cats.”

As is the case with many organizations, the most significant consequence of the pandemic for TAPS appears to be a financial hit. As a non-profit group, TAPS relies heavily on fund-raising events and donations from the community. Crotty estimated that special events like Rockin’ for TAPS and various donations drives, which were canceled this year because of pandemic-related physical distancing protocols, would have raised about $30,000. That loss of revenue has forced her to be more selective as to which animals TAPS can accept.

“One of the things I have to be careful of operationally is (making sure) we are able to meet our expenses,” she said. “So, I’ve had to be more careful of what animals we’ve been able to help. We always try to say ‘yes’ when we know there are animals with significant medical needs, but I’ve had to be more realistic about the needs we can meet this year.”

In addition to financial support to meet operating expenses, Crotty added that TAPS is still accepting donations of various types of pet food and cleaning supplies.

“We always welcome donations at our back door,” she said. “We are so appreciative of the community, which has supported us through this pandemic, and has understood that we have to be closed to the public.”


Source: Pekin Daily Times,